School Boards, Technology and Civic Engagement

Technology has demonstrated its capacity to create new forums in which the public is not only heard, but also empowered to participate in the growth and success of their own community. Leveraging technology and civic engagement, school boards are able to more effectively contribute to the success of public school systems.

Civic engagement in school boards is vital to ensure that the community’s needs are appropriately represented and goals are met. School boards are leaders and advocates for public education within their communities, identifying areas for growth and developing plans of action.

But, why is technology so pertinent to civic engagement in today’s society? Studies have shown that citizens may have complaints or concerns regarding public issues, but will not contact the appropriate government agency for help due to various barriers or obstacles preventing engagement (Gardener 2018).

Technology can address these obstacles, by providing user-friendly and easily-accessible tools that engage and inform the public about key issues while enabling residents to share their thoughts or concerns. BoardDocs, a Diligent brand, leverages many key features to not only benefit the school board, but members of the public, as well.

Access to Information

Members of the community are stakeholders, and stakeholders have a right to know what the return is on their investment. Success and a return on that investment can be found in treating the public with respect and maintaining transparency through sharing relevant information. Even after public school systems engage with the community, some members of the public can still be unaware of many opportunities available to students.

School boards can utilize software like BoardDocs to ensure relevant information and updates regarding goals, events, resources, and projects are shared with the public. Providing the appropriate level of information with the public promotes community ownership and trust.

BoardDocs maintains pertinent board materials (such as: policies, agendas, minutes, legislation, and other important documents) and makes this information easily accessible to board members and the public (various security levels are available to protect sensitive information). Not only are public constituents able to access this information, but it can be made searchable by keyword.

When creating paperless meeting agendas, specific articles or documents can be linked within the agenda items. Access to meeting details, agendas, and previous minutes allow for citizens to participate more in civic engagement in a way that is easy and informative. Creating easier access to pertinent materials for community members to stay informed demonstrates the importance of technology and civic engagement for school boards.

Goal-setting and Tracking

The community members that the school board represents have their own goals for the public education system and growth within the area. Board management software can provide an opportunity to leverage goal-setting and tracking.

BoardDocs, a Diligent brand, provides school boards with goal-setting features to develop a plan of action that can be updated and maintained. This information can be manageable at different levels to maintain information that should only be board-accessible and to share information that is open to the public.

BoardDocs also allows school board members and the public to actively follow the progress toward strategic goals through a comprehensive goal-tracking tool. Leveraging resources like BoardDocs enables school boards to manage their time and efforts so they can provide results on initiatives that the public is expecting to see. By utilizing this technology, school boards also incorporate the community in plans around goals, which then fosters civic engagement and an active dialogue with the public.

The opportunity for the public to be involved and abreast of community goals demonstrates the importance of technology and civic engagement, especially through tools utilized by school boards.

Empower Citizens

An informed citizen is an empowered citizen. By utilizing board management technology, the school board can maintain and update key information that community members need to stay informed.

Studies have shown that citizens with concerns are unlikely to seek help from the appropriate government agency due to barriers or obstacles (Gardener 2018). To increase civic engagement, technology must be leveraged in a way that is easy to access and use. School board management software, like BoardDocs, a Diligent brand, should be easily accessible through an online platform where information can be shared or searched for by keyword.

Online links to referenced materials make it easy for public constituents to follow along through searchable keyword items. Board management software even provides the capability to host an online archive of legislation, minutes, agendas, articles, reports, maps, spreadsheets, etc. Access to information is the best way to inform, empower, and engage the public.

It is through the school board that the community can be heard and the performance of schools can be held accountable. For community members who may not be able to attend every school board meeting, technology allows these individuals to maintain a sense of involvement while also staying informed of progress made by the school board. In such cases, technology is imperative to maintaining civic engagement.

Conclusion

School boards are called to reflect the needs and interests of the community through local public education and fostering commitment from the community. In today’s society, technology and civic engagement go hand-in-hand. It is discovering how the school board can best leverage technology to foster civic engagement and community development, that will have the greatest impact on public involvement.

Community members utilize online forums to maintain public participation and to stay informed. However, social media and similar sites are not a suitable outlet for government bodies to cultivate community involvement. A secure, easily accessible tool can be used to inform and empower public constituents while promoting civic engagement.

Utilizing a single board management software, like BoardDocs with its expansive features, school boards have an increasing number of opportunities to apply technology in ways that will mobilize the public to get involved in community affairs. With a return on increasing civic engagement within the community, investments in technology for school boards are truly worthwhile.


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